Freehub Magazine and Patagonia pulled together an exceptional project showcasing the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship‘s efforts over the years to pull the town of Downieville up from the dust to a pure golden mountain bike destination.
When I started this trip through South America almost 3 years ago I had no idea what to expect. My bicycle “touring” experience could all be summed up in a tumultuous three week trip to Perú where I spent half of the time with my head hovering over a toilet while suffering from typhoid and a quick one week trip through Norway that resulted in an emergency room visit with frostbite on my toes that still affects me today. I was working on roughly a 5% success rate. Would I quit my “stable job” of almost ten years only to head off into the Andes all by myself and realize that this just wasn’t my thing? Come crawling back a few weeks later, asking for a do-over? I honestly had no idea and these were extremely realistic possibilities in my mind. All I knew was that I’d regret it if I didn’t try.
The Carretera Austral is without a doubt South America’s bicycle touring capital. No place on this continent sees a higher influx of Ortlieb-clad folks from around the world looking to enjoy Patagonia’s natural wonders. With good reason too. There’s a more advanced tourist infrastructure, bringing more luxuries from back home more frequently along the way (toilets and hot showers are cool). The challenge-to-scenery ratio along the Austral is also extremely generous, and the road surface suits just about any bike you can strap a few bags to. You don’t have to suffer too much to have a good time in nature here.
If you had told me 5 years ago that I’d be riding across a 7-foot deep river in Argentinian Patagonia on a horse with a bike hoisted on top, I would have probably said you’ve gone off the deep end, yet here we are.
“Cruzar” is a short video, documenting Patagonia’s Lake District, Carretera Austral, and Chiloé Island.
While I’d already been into the area that is technically considered Patagonia a couple of times by this point, entering towns like Pucón in Chile, and San Martin de Los Andes in Argentina marked a noticeable shift from all of the regions I’d been in previously, which still felt largely unchanged by tourism. It was still quite early in the season for the hordes of travelers to have taken over these places, but the signs are there. Fancy chocolate shops. Overpriced hostels. Cafes on every street corner selling $8 artisanal muffins to a looping soundtrack of Adele and Sam Smith.
This is a good one!
“Patagón is the video that tells the adventure of Montanus during the bike and packraft exploration of a remote area of southern Patagonia, where, between the Austral Andes and the huge glacial lakes, the traditional Argentine culture of the gauchos still survives.”
“Every new trail you travel on or off the beaten path brings uncertainty. Riding bikes in a place like this forces you to pay attention to the terrain, listen closely to suggestions on how to move through it. Instead of success and failure you became to think in terms of adaptation and forward motion.”
Lorraine Blancher explores the mountain bike trails on the border of Argentina and Chile, known as the Atacama.
For almost 40 years, Patagonia has been involved in some way with environmental activism. This week they launched Action Works, an online portal to connect you to localized grassroots activism. See more at Action Works.
“Searching for an honest adventure right out their backdoor, a group of skiers and snowboarders travel south from Reno, Nevada on bicycles loaded down with ski and camp gear. Their sights on Mt. Whitney and the endless backcountry ski terrain along the way, these off-the-couch bikers hilariously struggle to keep both wheels moving along the iconic Highway 395 from a new angle: the Sierra saddle vista.”
Peter had quite the surprise on his bikepacking trip…
“While I was bike touring in Chile I met a fellow cyclist named Allister Knox. We ended up riding about a week and a half together, always searching for perfect river campsites, dry firewood, and good hill climbs. When we finally reached the end of the Carretera Austral, a village called Villa O’Higgins, we set up at a Hostel for a few nights until we could take the ferry to cross into Argentina. Al surprised me with a ticket on this flight the night before we were supposed to take the ferry and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my trip in Patagonia.”
It’s been a while since Patagonia offered mountain bike-specific apparel but their return looks to be triumphant. These new Dirt Craft MTB shorts are just one of their offerings, yet look to be the most bike-specific item on the list. In fact, I’m sure they’d be more than ideal for touring as well. They’ve got all the details you’d want in a resilient short made to take a beating on the bike and best of all, they make them for women too. See the full MTB line at Patagonia.
You can’t throw a press launch in Patagonia without a solid plan and you can’t throw a race in Patagonia without experienced organization. The Rally of Aysén began as an idea, born in the offices of Santa Cruz Bicycles, some 10,446km away from Coyhaique, where the event would take place.
The idea was simple: in a time where enduro is hyped up, bring a rally format, multi-day event to the Aysén region of Chile, where mountain biking is in its infancy. The event would include timed climbs, timed cross-country, timed descents and downhill segments. It’d be a true battle of the most well-rounded riders and was not for anyone afraid of a bit of navigation or pushwacking…
Photos by Kyle Kelley
This website focuses a lot on Made in the USA products, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t share products like this when I put them through the ringer, especially if it saves you some money.
The summer sun is unforgiving and while I’ll wear sun sleeves and a normal jersey on my road bike, I spent a good amount of time this year looking for long-sleeve sunblocking options for mountain bike rides. A large misconception about long sleeve shirts is that they’re too hot to wear on a sunny summer day and while that can be true for materials like cotton, there are silkweight options that will wick sweat, keep you cool and most importantly protect your arms from the sun’s harmful rays…
There are a lot of misconceptions about merino wool, many of which are addressed here in this video by Patagonia, showcasing their new Merino Air™ baselayers. I’ve tried these products on and was really impressed with them. When it comes to bikepacking, camping and even travel, I usually wear as much merino as I can. It’s nice seeing the fabric pushed into a new realm…
Com’on, admit it. You’ve got a few pieces of Patagonia in your wardrobe. My favorite is their down sweater. I never leave for a trip without it. That thing has saved me on more than one occasion over the years. Chances are, your clothing has hit a few snags after heavy use. Rather than tossing it in the trash, you choose to send it in for repair.
Patagonia’s repair facilities are in Reno, NV but now, there’s a new mobile repair truck. The Worn Wear truck is currently crossing the US to make on the spot repairs, sell used clothes and even teach you how to repair your own apparel.
Check out the full schedule below…
Up until last week, I hadn’t heard anything about this movie, Slow is Fast. If you’re thinking of touring the California coast, this is a must-watch!
“In September 2012, Dan Malloy, Kanoa Zimmerman and Kellen Keene rode bikes down the California coast hoping to see their home state in a new slower-paced light — surfing, camping, staying with friends and lending a hand wherever they could to earn their keep. The result of the trip is a beautifully crafted book and DVD.”
Pick up the DVD and book at Patagonia.